What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when an individual stops breathing for several seconds -- and in some cases minutes while sleeping. This occurrence is commonly referred to as an “apneic event.” The most common form of the disorder is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in which the airways are obstructed or collapsed, making it difficult if not impossible to breathe properly.
Sleep apnea is a chronic and progressive health problem that will potentially worsen over time. If left untreated, it can cause serious long term health issues including:
- High blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, sleep apnea can make it worse. When you wake up often during the night, your body gets stressed. That makes your hormones go into overdrive, which boosts your blood pressure levels. Also, the level of oxygen in your blood drops when you can’t breathe well, which may add to the problem.
- Heart disease. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks. The causes may be low oxygen or the stress of waking up often. Strokes and atrial fibrillation — a fast, fluttering heartbeat — are also linked with the condition. Sleep apnea disrupts how your body takes in oxygen, which makes it hard for your brain to control how blood flows in your arteries and the brain itself. People with sleep apnea aren’t just sleep deprived; they’re also oxygen deprived.
- Weight gain.Extra weight increases your chances of getting sleep apnea, and the condition also makes it harder to slim down. Sleep apnea can also make your body release more of a hormone called ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs and sweets. When you’re tired all the time, you might not be able to turn the food you eat into energy as efficiently, which can lead to weight gain.
- Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is common among people with Type 2 diabetes. Untreated sleep apnea results in increased levels of cortisol, the hormones that are released in response to stress. Prolonged exposure to elevated levels of cortisol leads to hyperglycemia or elevated blood sugar levels, as well as weight gain. Sleep apnea has also been linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
- Depression and anxiety. When your body releases large amounts of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline while asleep, this can cause or exacerbate conditions such as depression and anxiety.
How can orthodontic treatment help treat obstructive sleep apnea?
For those diagnosed with sleep apnea, the first line of treatment typically recommended is a CPAP machine. However, studies reveal that many patients don’t use their CPAP long term with only 42% still using their machines after five years. In large part, this is due to the inconvenience and awkwardness of sleeping and traveling with a CPAP machine and mask every night. In addition, a CPAP machine requires high maintenance such as everyday cleaning and distilled water during use.
At Park Smiles NYC and our sister practice, NYC Sleep Well, our experienced team of sleep specialists, orthodontists, oral surgeon, and restorative dentists will develop a custom plan based on your condition along with your lifestyle and personal preferences. We understand that many prefer alternative treatments to CPAP and are pleased to offer options, including:
- Custom oral appliance. Commonly known as a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), the appliance is worn in your mouth while you sleep. The device holds the lower jaw forward just enough to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and blocking the airway.
- Orthodontic movement of the teeth. Using a Maxillary Palatal Expander or Rapid Palatal Expander together with braces, the treatment will expand the palate and open the arch to be wider, subsequently advancing the lower jaw to move the back of the tongue forward. As a result of the changed skeletal relationship, a permanent airway solution will be created.
- Multiple crowns to alter the bite. With the jaw in a forward position, we change the shape of the teeth by utilizing a full arch of crowns to change the bite to that forward position. By changing the tooth relationship to bring the jaw forward and tongue off the back of the throat, it also creates a permanent airway solution.
In addition to these treatments, we offer an array of proven in-office procedures and surgical treatments such as orthognathic surgery to move the jaw forward relative to the airway.
Why choose Park Smiles NYC and New York Sleep Well for your sleep apnea treatment?
Led by Dr. Ruben Cohen, a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, and our Board Certified Orthodontists, our skilled team has extensive experience in dental and orthodontic treatments in addition to surgical procedures for treatment of sleep apnea. These include the Pillar Procedure, Nasal Surgery, Radiofrequency, and Genioglossus Advancement.
For your added peace-of-mind, our facility is accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), the Gold Standard in Accreditation.
Don’t delay if you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea!
Sleep apnea isn’t just about snoring. It’s about the potentially dangerous and life threatening side effects. If you’ve already been diagnosed and have tried a CPAP machine without success, contact us today at (212) 988-6724 to explore our array of effective treatments. Or, if you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea but have not yet been diagnosed, contact us to schedule a sleep test.
Our goal, plain and simple, is to help you sleep well – and be healthy!